“But… he was the kind of man I wanted to be,” I said yesterday morning, my first bewildered thought after hearing the news that Anthony Bourdain had killed himself.
What I meant was: he was the kind of man I most admire, a mirror I hold up to myself and others, the kind of human I want to be. Restless, sweary, not always very nice, but ultimately soulful, curious, hungry, and real. I turned to him when I didn’t know what to watch. I trusted his taste when I didn’t know what to think. He had the best job in the world — and probably the loneliest. He was, I write with special irony, my answer to the question: “If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?”
And he was, hand on heart, the most influential cultural legend in my life. But to say I’ll miss him misses the point. This is not what I wanted. Or what his millions of fans wanted. I’m sure it’s not what his family — his daughter — wanted.
But to respect the memory of the man, we have to leave room for the possibility that it is what he wanted.
He lived enviably, he was sane, and he was sad. And all we can do is try to live in a world where all these things could be true.